Friday, 2 July 2010

Boris Johnson’s massive attack on walking

Transport for London says it has identified 145 sites across the city where traffic signals could be causing unnecessary delays to motorists.

They will be holding discussions with borough councils and stakeholders about whether these traffic signals could be removed or replaced with alternative measures.

"There are few things more annoying than sitting at a traffic light on red for no apparent reason and we've now identified 145 sites where we think the signals may no longer be doing a useful job," says Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's transport advisor.

"By getting rid of them, we hope we can smooth traffic flow across London and deliver real improvements for all road users."

The idea that congestion can be reduced by getting rid of pedestrian crossings is delusional.

London has around 20 per cent of the UK’s traffic congestion. This is estimated to cost the Capital’s economy at least £2 billion a year. In 2009/2010, TfL recorded the main causes of congestion as:
• Collisions 28 per cent
• Vehicle breakdowns 9 per cent
• Highway Authority Works 19 per cent
• Utility Works 19 per cent
• Special Events 4 per cent
Other issues (e.g. spillages, general volume of traffic etc) 21 per cent

In other words, making life more difficult for pedestrians is not going to make a scrap of difference to gridlock in London. Indeed, the more you make walking and cycling unpleasant and dangerous, the more you make people want to travel by car.


The sets of signals in Hatch Lane, on the junction with Ashwood Road, Chingford, and Forest Road, by Hill Crest Road, Walthamstow, were among 145 lights found to be causing unnecessary traffic delays by Transport for London (TfL).

Both these crossings provide a safe way for pedestrians to cross busy and dangerous main roads. The Hatch Lane crossing is close to a primary school.

The notion that getting rid of these two crossings will magically make the roads of Waltham Forest less congested is bizarre and irrational.

But then it’s worth remembering that twelve years ago the promise was made that the construction of the M11 Link Road through Wanstead, Leytonstone and Leyton

should soon bring to an end almost a century of traffic jams in the East End.

It hasn’t done, of course. And while hundreds of millions of pounds were spent on car dependency, the local community was carved in two by a concrete canyon, with a pittance spent on poorly designed footbridges which are now in an atrocious condition, something this blog pointed out a long time ago.

Meanwhile in the London Borough of Waltham Forest the dedicated cycle crossing at the St Mary Road/A112 junction has now been out of action for an incredible 10 months, the dedicated cycle crossing of the A1006 remains out of action even though the roadworks have now moved up the road and there is now no possible justification for leaving the cycle lights switched off, and to add to the insults the pedestrian crossing lights at the lethal High Street/St James Street crossing have also now been switched off (see photo above), with, as always, the only priority the car.

Now take a deep breath.

Congratulations, fellow Londoner, you may have just inhaled more tiny bits of grime and grit than would a citizen of any other major European city completing the same simple exercise. Last week, air quality monitoring equipment in the capital recorded dangerous levels of airborne "particulates" for the 36th time this year, passing the limit set by the European Commission for the whole of 2010 even before its midpoint has been reached. Now breath out again.